Anti-Russian, anti-war voices grow louder in China in backlash against party line

More than 100 alumni of top Chinese universities issue statement condemning Putin's invasion of Ukraine
By Qiao Long, Chingman and Malik Wang
2022.03.01
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Anti-Russian, anti-war voices grow louder in China in backlash against party line The view of military facility which was destroyed by recent shelling in the city of Brovary outside Kyiv on March 1, 2022. Russian troops will carry out an attack on the infrastructure of Ukraine's security services in Kyiv and urged residents living nearby to leave, the defense ministry said, March 1, 2022.
AFP

More than 130 alumni of China's most prestigious universities have condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine, calling on the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to honor a mutual security pact it signed with Kyiv in 1994.

"We strongly condemn Russian aggression against Ukraine and resolutely support the just struggle of the Ukrainian people to resist it, and defend their country," said the statement, signed by graduates of disparate departments from journalism to physics at Peking, Tsinghua and Renmin universities.

It cited a joint security pact signed between China and Ukraine that commits Beijing to "providing security guarantees" to Ukraine, in the event that Ukraine was the subject of foreign aggression.

Letter signatory Lu Nan, who graduated from the journalism department at Renmin University, said the letter was initiated by alumni of Peking University.

"We all have a common purpose, which is to oppose war and maintain peace," Lu told RFA. "Russia's invasion of Ukraine is a fundamental challenge to human conscience."

"Ukraine didn't invade Russia. It's a sovereign country and its people are peace-loving," he said.

Anger at 'Little Pinks'

The letter came as video footage of civilian and military casualties in Ukraine circulated on Chinese social media.

"We are very angry at the large number of Little Pinks who support the use of violence in Russia in online comments," Lu said. "This is no longer just about politics; it's about humanity and conscience."

An alumnus of Zhejiang University surnamed Ma said the letter was rare in today's China, where public speech is strictly regulated by CCP censors.

"It's rare for alumni to make statement like this; the phenomenon may spread," Ma said. "Other groups ... will likely have the same point of view."

Internet censors in China ordered news outlets and social media accounts to avoid posting anything critical of Russia or favorable to NATO after Russia began moving troops across the border into Ukraine last week.

All copy about the war is to be approved by the CCP's propaganda department prior to posting, while social media platforms are required to delete "inappropriate" comments about the situation in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, some of the thousands of Chinese nationals currently in Ukraine have hit out at Chinese social media commentators for endangering them after "joke" comments circulated about the sexual availability of Ukrainian women if the men die in the war.

Evacuations begin

The Chinese embassy in Kyiv said it had started evacuating the first batch of 600 Chinese nationals by bus to neighboring Moldova on Monday afternoon.

A second group of nearly 1,000 students was evacuated on Tuesday, with Moldova granting temporary visa waivers for refugees crossing the border.

But the evacuation flights promised earlier by the embassy seem unlikely to materialize soon, an embassy official told RFA.

"Planes can't leave, you can't leave by plane, so it'll have to be overland," the official said. "We have to get people out in batches, and I don't know about tomorrow."

"It depends on whether we have transportation available," the official said. "I can't answer that right now."

The official said the 24-hour hotline has been extremely busy.

"Basically, no sooner do I hang up on one call than another call comes in," the official said, warning Chinese nationals in Ukraine to keep their phone on, pay attention to their personal safety, and not to identify themselves as Chinese if using a subway station to shelter from the fighting.

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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